Telling and being told: storytelling and cultural control in contemporary Mexican and Yukatek Maya texts Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Worley, Paul Marcus
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • All across Latin America, from the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico to the presidential election of Evo Morales, an Aymara, in Bolivia, indigenous peoples are successfully rearticulating their roles as political actors within their respective states. The reconfiguration of these relationships involves massive social, cultural, and historical projects as well, as indigenous peoples seek to contest stereotypes that have been integral to the region's popular imagination for over five hundred years. This dissertation examines the image of the indigenous storyteller in contemporary Mexican and Yukatek Maya literatures. Within such a context, Yukatek Maya literature means and must be understood to encompass written and oral texts. The opening chapter provides a theoretical framework for my discussion of the storyteller in Mexican and Yukatek Maya literatures. Chapter 2 undertakes a comparison between the Mexican feminist Laura Esquivel's novel Malinche and the Yukatek Maya Armando Dzul Ek's play How it happened that the people of Maní paid for their sins in the year 1562 to see how each writer employs the figure of the storyteller to rewrite histories of Mexico's conquest. The following chapter addresses the storyteller's function in foklore, juxtaposing a number of works in order to show the full scope of oral literary traditions. The fourth chapter examines how traditional storytelling structures the narration of contemporary events as seen in two stories I recorded in Santa Elena, Yucatán, in 2007, as told by the Yukatek Maya Mariano Bonilla Caamal. In the fifth chapter I analyze the use of the figure of the storyteller in one text each by female Yukatek Maya authors, María Luisa Góngora Pacheco and Ana Patricia Martínez Huchim, and show how these authors use this traditional figure to construct a Maya modernity. The appendices include transcriptions of oral stories and interview excerpts. The Maya have used oral literature and Maya language to maintain their culture since the conquest, and this dissertation focuses on the figure of the storyteller to demonstrate the complex relationship between oral and written texts in 21st-century Yukatek Maya literature.
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  • Perelmuter, Rosa
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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